By the time Midway crowned its homecoming queen at halftime, there was no question who was king.
Panthers senior running back James Fullbright shined from the beginning until Midway was way ahead and en route to a 52-28 victory over Copperas Cove on Friday night at Panther Stadium.
Fullbright finished with 238 rushing yards and four touchdowns — all of 19 yards or longer — on 20 carries as he fueled the Panthers offense the way he has so many times before.
Midway quarterback Nick Jimenez got in the act as well as he ran for 50 yards and a pair of TDs.
And Panthers defensive back Trevius Hodges had his sparkling moments too. Hodges broke up a pass that stopped Copperas Cove’s first offensive series in Midway territory in the first quarter. Then, he made the dazzling play of the night as he scooped a fumble and refused to be tackled on his way to a 50-yard fumble return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Hodges’ score put Midway ahead 49-14 and the game out of reach with 9:19 left.
After a sluggish start this season, Midway (4-1, 4-0 in District 12-6A) has won its last three games against Killeen Ellison, Waco High and Copperas Cove all by at least three touchdowns. The Panthers have also scored more than 50 points in their last three victories.
Copperas Cove (4-3, 2-3) had scored a combined 121 points in wins over Ellison and Waco High the last two weeks. But the Bulldawgs couldn’t solve Midway’s defense often enough and the Bulldawgs gave up a fumble and two interceptions in losing the turnover battle, 3-1.
Midway cut loose on offense in the first half as it built a 28-7 lead by the time Fullbright sprinted through a big hole for his third touchdown of the night.
Fullbright rushed for 189 yards on 14 carries through the first and second quarters. He scored on runs of 27, 19 and 23 yards, running in wide open spaces more often than not, it seemed.
Meanwhile, Jimenez made the offense multidimensional as he completed 5 of his first 10 passes for 90 yards. He also rushed for 23 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown that put Midway in front 21-7 with 7:21 left in the second quarter.
The Panthers led 14-0 before Copperas Cove began punching back.
Bulldawgs quarterback Easton Simpson found wide receiver Jahmeel Rice open over the middle and connected with him for a 64-yard touchdown that cut Midway’s lead in half, 14-7, with 8:30 left before the break.
Simpson also converted a fourth-and-goal with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Lewis to bring Copperas Cove within two scores at 28-14.
Then the Bulldawgs threatened to create an even bigger momentum swing before the half by blocking a punt and taking over at the Panthers’ 23 with 31 seconds left in the second quarter.
But Midway linebacker Marcus Johnson stopped Rice at the 1-yard line as the Cove receiver was reaching for the end zone on the final play of the first half. Johnson’s tackle preserved the Panthers’ 28-14 halftime lead.
Jeff Hulme shook his head in awe as he looked to the ground. The Midway head coach, who had been standing with his feet apart at shoulder widt…